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    Fragile X syndrome

    Martin-Bell syndrome; Marker X syndrome

    Fragile X syndrome is a genetic condition involving changes in part of the X chromosome. It is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability in boys.

    Causes

    Fragile X syndrome is caused by a change in a gene called FMR1. A small part of the gene code is repeated on a fragile area of the X chromosome. The more repeats, the more likely there is to be a problem

    The FMR1 gene makes a protein needed for your brain to grow properly. A defect in the gene makes your body produce too little of the protein, or none at all.

    Boys and girls can both be affected, but because boys have only one X chromosome, a single fragile X is likely to affect them more severely. You can have fragile X syndrome even if your parents do not have it.

    A family history of fragile X syndrome, developmental problems, or intellectual disability may not be present.

    Symptoms

    • Delay in crawling, walking, or twisting
    • Hand clapping or hand biting
    • Hyperactive or impulsive behavior
    • Intellectual disability
    • Speech and language delay
    • Tendency to avoid eye contact

    Physical signs may include:

    • Flat feet
    • Flexible joints and low muscle tone
    • Large body size
    • Large forehead or ears with a prominent jaw
    • Long face
    • Soft skin

    Some of these problems are present at birth, while others may not develop until after puberty.

    Family members who have fewer repeats in the FMR1 gene may not have intellectual disability, but may have other problems. Women with less severe changes may have premature menopause or difficulty becoming pregnant. Both men and women may have problems with tremors and poor coordination.

    Exams and Tests

    There are very few outward signs of Fragile X syndrome in babies. Some signs may include:

    • Large head circumference in babies
    • Intellectual disability
    • Large testicles after the start of puberty
    • Subtle differences in face features

    In females, excess shyness may be the only sign of the disorder.

    Genetic testing can diagnose this disease.

    Treatment

    There is no specific treatment for Fragile X syndrome. Instead, training and education have been developed to help affected children function at as high a level as possible.

    Support Groups

    National Fragile X Foundation -- www.fragilex.org

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    How well the patient does depends on the amount of intellectual disability.

    Possible Complications

    Complications vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms.

    • Recurrent infections in children
    • Seizure disorder

    Fragile X syndrome can be a cause of autism or related disorders, although not all children with fragile X syndrome have these conditions.

    Prevention

    Genetic counseling may be helpful if you have a family history of this syndrome and are planning to become pregnant.

    References

    Shapiro BK, Batshaw ML. Intellectual disability. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 33.

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              Tests for Fragile X syndrome

                Review Date: 9/6/2011

                Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (8/4/2011).

                The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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